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How to Transplant a Lilac Bush & Tree

Lilac image by Aleksander Reshetnik from

The lilac bush is a flowering plant from the same family as the olive tree. It is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 32 feet tall. The tree sprouts flowers in the springtime, usually purple, pink or white in color. Lilacs can survive for many years, and eventually, depending on landscaping plans, the plant may need to be moved. Planning a lilac move at least a couple years ahead is best, as you will need to adapt the tree for transplant before the move.

Prune the roots of the lilac bush back two years before the move, pruning in the fall. Measure the trunk diameter at waist height, then measure out from the tree 9 inches for every inch of trunk diameter. Cut the roots at this point.

Transplant during the dormant season of early spring or fall, after the leaves have dropped.

Tie the branches of the tree to the trunk when you are ready to move the plant and dig around the plant 6 inches away from the root line. Dig a hole that is 18 inches deep around the plant until the plant is loose.

Place the burlap bag to the side of the tree and lift it onto the burlap bag. Tie the bag around the dirt and roots to protect them during the move.

Dig a hole for the lilac transplant in your new location and place the tree into it. Refill the hole with dirt and water well.

Lilac A Tree Or A Bush?

Tree lilacs offer the imposing height of trees with the pretty, fragrant blossoms of smaller lilacs. " Some lilacs have been bred to grow into compact bushes, which means you needn't miss out on fragrant lilac flowers if you have a small yard. " It is suitable for USDA zones 4 through 8. " Bearing lavender-pink blooms and orange-red fall leaves, this lilac grows in USDA zones 3 through 9. Another lilac suitable for areas with mild winters is "Lavender Lady" lilac (Syringa vulgaris "Lavender Lady"), which grows 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide, and has fragrant, lavender spring blooms. In hot areas, they benefit from some afternoon shade. Pruning away the current year's flowers as soon as they fade and removing the leaves back to the stem, increases flowering the following year.

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